Cathcart, Charles (1721-1776) (DNB00)


CATHCART, CHARLES, ninth Baron Cathcart (1721–1776), soldier and ambassador, born 21 March 1721, was the son of Charles, eighth baron, a military officer of considerable distinction. The son at an early age entered the 3rd regiment of foot guards. In 1742 he commanded the 20th regiment of foot under the Earl of Stair. He accompanied the Duke of Cumberland through his campaigns in Flanders, Scotland, and Holland, acting as one of the duke's aides-de-camp at Fontenoy, and receiving in that battle a dangerous wound in his head. Under the provisions of the treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle (1748) two British noblemen were sent to Paris as hostages for the restitution of Cape Breton to France (a provision which gave great and natural offence to British pride), and Cathcart was one of the peers selected for that purpose. He became a colonel in 1750 and a lieutenant-general in December 1760. As the Duke of Cumberland was greatly attached to Cathcart, he retained his friend in his service as lord of the bedchamber. From 1755 to 1763, in which year Cathcart was created a knight of the Thistle, and from 1773 to his death he held the office of lord high commissioner in the general assembly of the kirk of Scotland. For three years (1768–71) he served as ambassador extraordinary at the court of Russia, and from 1752 till his death he was one of the sixteen representative peers of his country, its first lord commissioner of police, and the lieutenant-general of the forces stationed within its borders. He died in London 14 Aug. 1776, and was succeeded in the title by William Schaw Cathcart [q. v.] Cathcart married, 24 July 1753, Jean, daughter of Lady Archibald Hamilton, and his second daughter, Mary, was the wife of Sir Thomas Graham, lord Lynedoch, her portrait by Gainsborough being the masterpiece of the Edinburgh National Gallery. His third daughter, Louise, who married, first, David, lord Mansfield, is the subject of one of Romney's best pictures. Their father, whose military capacity received the praises of Wolfe, was very proud of his Fontenoy scar, and twice sat to Sir Joshua Reynolds (June 1761 and March 1773) for his portrait. ‘It is not often a man has had a pistol-bullet through the head and lived,’ and he always requested Sir Joshua to arrange that the black patch on his cheek might be visible, a desire which was complied with. A portrait of him and the Duke of Cumberland at Culloden, painted by C. Philips, is also in the possession of the family, and was exhibited in the collection at South Kensington in 1867. In this picture, as in the others, the black patch is easily seen. Cathcart is said to have befriended James Watt and Adam Smith.

[Campbell-Maclachlan's Duke of Cumberland, 25, 63, 110–14; Gent. Mag. 1776, pp. 239, 386; Jesse's George Selwyn, iii. 147; Leslie and Taylor's Sir Joshua Reynolds, i. 202, ii. 11, 13; Douglas and Wood, i. 343–5.]

W. P. C.